Dumpster Diving for Dinner – Freeganism explored

I confess. I watch Oprah sometimes – not religiously, but sometimes. I TIVO the show, then take a look at the description. If it looks interesting, I’ll watch it. If not, it gets deleted.

Yesterday’s topic du jour mentioned something about Lisa Ling investigating the lifestyle of “Freegans.” I had never heard of Freegans or Freeganism before, but I am a fan of Lisa Ling, (anyone remember her from “Channel One News” in high school?), so I decided to take a look to see what it was all about and I’m glad I did.

Freegans are “a grassroots subculture is made of people who have decided to live outside consumer society. Freegans say our culture’s emphasis on buying the newest products—and throwing away perfectly fine older things—is a waste of the world’s resources. Instead, they focus on buying less and use only what they need. One of the main ways freegans do this is by salvaging food and other goods from the trash.”

The focus of the episode was really on how much we as Americans consume and how much we waste. What and how much do we really need to live? What void are we trying to fill as we consume and consume? Will we ever be happy?

freegansOn this episode of Oprah, Lisa Ling followed around Madeline, who previously earned a 6-figure income before becoming a self-professed freegan, and others as they went on a “trash tour” in New York, exploring dumpsters at grocery stores and bakeries for salvageable food that had been tossed. The quantity of edible food was both remarkable and disturbing in that stores are letting so much go to waste. Some of the food was slightly past its sell-by date, some was getting close to the sell-by date, and there really was no explanation as to why some of the food was in the trash. There was produce, eggs, but also a lot of packaged food, still perfectly wrapped.

The food Madeline and the others find is far from gross. “‘It’s not toxic waste,’ she says. Much of the food is still in its original packaging and has been discarded largely for cosmetic reasons, not because of poor quality. She shows Lisa how cartons of eggs are regularly thrown away when there’s one broken egg—even though there are 11 perfectly good ones remaining. Fruit is often thrown away when it has only minor dents, she says.”

Official surveys indicate that every year more than 350 billion pounds of edible food is available for human consumption in the United States. Of that total, nearly 100 billion pounds – including fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, and grain products – are lost to waste by retailers, restaurants, and consumers.

Lisa and Oprah also talked with a newlywed couple, Daniel and Amanda – a doctor and civil engineer – who believe in freeganism as well. I read a bit on their blog last night. Good food for thought – pun intended. 😉

The show definitely got me thinking and I hope it did others as well. While I don’t know that I’m going to run out and go dumpster diving for my dinner tonight, I admit that the idea does have it’s merits, namely that by salvaging food from the dumpster you are keeping it out of the landfills. I do have my concerns regarding safety and whether or not it is legal. I noticed the people on Oprah did their dumpster diving in the dark. Is that because that’s when the food has freshly been tossed or is it because they shouldn’t be digging around in the dumpsters by law or both?

Ava watched some of the show with with me (I turned it off when it got to the part about the mom who works as a stripper to provide for her kids, not that I disagree necessarily, but I didn’t think it was appropriate for Ava to watch) and when I half-jokingly, half-seriously talked about going shopping for our groceries in the trash next time, she commented, “I don’t want to eat food out of the trash. That’s gross.” It spurred a good discussion between us where I pointed out that all of that perfectly edible food being wasted wasn’t good either.

Eating food found in dumpsters might be too extreme for most people, but the message from the show was clear, consumerism and excessive waste in this country is out of control and something needs to change.

So what do YOU think? Do you think Americans in general consume and waste too much? Would you ever consider eating food out of the trash?

If you are interested in doing further reading, I came across some other interesting articles on the subject.

There’s also a site dedicated to Freeganism – Freegan.info – including a dumpster directory and a link to “find freegans near you.” It was down for a while after Oprah’s show aired, but it’s back online now.

Wordless Wednesday – 2/27/08 – Do it myself

The yogurt explosion - 2/23/08 Got into the exersaucer all by himself - 2/25/08

A note on the exersaucer pic (making this a not-so-wordless-Wednesday): The other day I was in the kitchen making dinner and looked up to see Julian sitting in it. I asked Ava if she put him in it. (She may only be 3 1/2, but she is very strong and often lifts her 25 lb. brother. Oy.) She said she didn’t. Upon further inspection I discovered he climbed into it himself and was sitting backwards, with his right leg in the left leg hole, hence his left leg/foot on the top. How could I not take a picture? 😉 It was a good reminder that it’s time to put the exersaucer away.

More Wordless Wednesday.

Increasing your blog traffic – A how to guide from ‘Crunchy’ herself

I was inspired to write about how to increase your blog traffic after reading a friend’s recent post about navigating social media sites. Since I’m not that schooled in social media sites yet, but I do have experience with growing my traffic through other avenues over the years, I wanted to pass on what has worked for me.

bloggingWithout further ado, here are the Crunchy Domestic Goddess’s tips for attracting more readers to your site. (Edited to add that from the time I initially posted this, I’ve since thought of three more things and added tips 6-8.)

  1. Comment, comment, comment – Seriously. To attract new readers you must first share the love by leaving comments on other blog. It’s fine to lurk sometimes, especially when you just don’t have the time to leave a comment (we’ve all been there), but the thing about commenting is that it lets the other blogger know you’ve been to their blog and that you want to contribute to what they are blogging about. It helpful if the blogs you leave comments on are similar in nature to your own or that you at least share something in common, as like tends to attracts like. They will soon notice that they have a new reader (who leaves them comments – bonus points for you!) and will mosey on over to your blog to see what you are all about, and in many cases, return the comment love. I believe this, by far, is the most important thing to do to attract people to your blog. I try to return comment love when someone comments on my posts, or shoot them an email response, but it doesn’t always happen. Regardless of if it happens every time, it is a goal of mine and I do sincerely appreciate your comments. 🙂
  2. Twitter – A new discovery and obsession of mine. From Wikipedia: Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service, instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific. One of the thing I like about Twitter (other than the ability to mass spam your address book of course) is that you can see who your “followers” have in their lists and then start following them, and your list continues to grow and grow, exposing you to new blogs and potentially exposing them to yours. It’s instant feedback and interaction and just plain fun!
  3. Blog carnivals – A blog carnival is when several people all post about a similar topic on the same day and often link back to other participants in the carnival or the host of the carnival posts the links to all participants. These are a lot of fun and a great way to meet bloggers with similar interests as you. A few of my favorites are Best Shot Monday, Wordless Wednesday, the Motherwear Carnival of Breastfeeding and now Haiku Friday. Some others I’ve seen are Works for me Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, and Make It From Scratch. I’m on the lookout for a good environmental/green carnival too. Anyone have any suggestions?
  4. Giveaways – Consider participating in the Bloggy Giveaways that Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer hosts every few months. It’s a great way to attract a lot of people to your blog in a short amount of time. Chances are some of them will like what they see on your blog and return.
    I also like to periodically hold my own giveaways generally by way of reviewing a product and then offering it or something similar up in a giveaway. Sometimes I ask that people link back to my blog which helps increase my traffic and boosts my Technorati Authority and Google Page Rank. Other times I make it optional. Check your Google page rank or learn more about claiming your blog and finding your authority on Technorati.
  5. Social networking/media sites – Social networking sites are another good way to get your blog “out there” and, again, meet more bloggers. 🙂 Some that I like are BlogHer, Maya’s Mom, and Cre8Buzz, and there are many others out there to choose from.
    Then there are sites like Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit, StumbleUpon, sk*rt, Slashdot and others. The premise here is someone submits a post that they like, then others on those sites can vote for it, increasing it’s popularity. If your post gets enough votes, it could end up on the front page of the site, sending your traffic through the roof and, ironically, often crashing your blog (known as the “Digg or Slashdot effect”)! I haven’t ventured into these sites much yet myself, though I did have hubby Jody help me put the sk*rt button at the bottom of my posts. I have, however, seen my traffic grow as a result of a cool blogger posting one of my blog posts on Stumble Upon. She stumbled Julian’s birth story and my traffic took a big jump for a few days.
  6. Signature – Add a link to your blog in your signature on any message boards you may post on. This gets links to your blog “out there” and will invariably attract people curious to see what you are all about. While I don’t do this on all of the message boards I post on, I do do it on a few. Note: if you don’t want certain people knowing about your blog, then it’s best not to post it wherever you interact with them online.
  7. Post regularly – I think people are more likely to return to a blog if they know it’s going to have new content at least a few times a week. (I’m amending this to clarify that quality matters over quantity. Thank you, Dawn and Jenni for mentioning that. Though I still believe it’s important to post regularly.) On the flip side, I do think you can overdo it. The temptation to post everything all at once can be great, especially when you have a lot of things you want to blog about, but I think it’s best to space out posts to roughly one per day. Personally in the past I’ve been turned off by blogs that update several times a day (which is what I’m doing today – LOL). It just gets too hard to keep up with them then.
  8. Link to others – If another blogger wrote about something that inspired your post, link back to them. Everybody appreciates a little linky love.

Whew! So there you have it. If you really want to grow your blog I believe you must put forth some effort other than just writing amazing posts. It takes time and energy, but you will soon reap the benefits of your labor, and meet some great people along the way!

Happy blogging! 🙂

Oh, and if you’d like to share things that have worked for you, I encourage you to add them in the comments. Thanks. 🙂

*Cartoon from Base10

Many maternal deaths are preventable

I’m over at BlogHer today writing about Many African Maternal Deaths are Preventable, Bush Provides Malaria Relief. A recent study revealed that a surprisingly large number of deaths among pregnant women in developing nations are from infectious diseases such as malaria, as opposed to from pregnancy-related illnesses. The findings suggest that many of these deaths are preventable.

Check it out if you get a moment.

My li’l sis, almost Esq.

Today and tomorrow (2/26 and 2/27) my little sister will be taking the Colorado Bar Exam. Keep her in your thoughts as she kicks butt and takes names, k?

Have I mentioned that the two of us were fantasizing just the other day about starting our own non-profit organization for pregnant women’s rights? Hey, it could happen. 😉

I love ya, sis. You can do it! 🙂

A little breastfeeding humor

Welcome to February’s Carnival of Breastfeeding sponsored by The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. This month our theme is breastfeeding humor, or “What’s so funny about breastfeeding?”

Here are a few breastfeeding funnies – a joke, picture and video – I gathered up from around the ‘net. Enjoy! 🙂

First, the joke:

A woman and a baby come into the doctor’s office.

She was told to go into a room and wait for the doctor.

After arriving there, the doctor examined the baby and asked the woman, “Is he breast fed or on the bottle?”

“Breast fed” she replied.

“Well, strip down to your waist,” the doctor ordered.

She did.

He pressed, kneaded and pinched both breasts for a while in a detailed examination.

Motioning to her to get dressed said, “No wonder this baby is hungry. You don’t have any milk.”

“Naturally,” she said, “I’m his aunt. But I’m glad I came.”

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Next, the picture:

Breastfeedin doin it wrong

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Finally, the video: (Note: this video includes a bit of non-sexual nudity, it’s about breastfeeding after all, but it may not be considered “work safe.”)

I don’t know what the woman says in this (anyone?), but you’ll get the gist of it regardless of the language spoken. 😉

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Other participants in this month’s carnival:
Please take a moment to check out some of their funnies.

– Tanya at The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog reviews two new breastfeeding humor books.
– Stacie at The Twinkies shares the breastfeeding conversation she fears.
– Andi at Mama Knows Breast shares a dads’ nursing in public video.
– Sinead at Breastfeeding Mums shares a pumping multi-tasking disaster.
– Carol at Happy Sad Mama shares why she loves to nurse her toddler.
– Angela at Breastfeeding 1-2-3 shares some crazy search terms that led readers to her site.

Green Tip of the Week #14 – If it’s yellow, let it mellow

More and more, droughts and the resulting water restrictions are becoming a part of everyday life. Check out this drought map showing the current drought conditions in the United States. It’s rather startling.

This week’s green tip may gross some people out, but it’s something we practice in our house at least part of the time and is a great (and easy) way to conserve water. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow – if it’s brown, flush it down.” In other words, if you go #1, don’t flush. If you go #2, flush.toilet

Waste Not, Want Less has done some calculations to determine how much water could be saved by employing this simple technique.

“…let’s assume that most toilets in the U.S. are newer, and that the “average toilet” uses roughly 2 gallons per flush.

From personal experience, I’d be willing to bet that the average person goes to the bathroom about six times per day; five times to go number one, and another time to go number two. Obviously, this is going to vary from person to person, but let’s just stick with this guesstimate.

So, if we followed the ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow – if it’s brown, flush it down’ mantra, the ‘average’ person could save about 10 gallons of water per day. Multiply that by 300 million people in the United States, and that’s over 3 billion gallons of water saved each day. Over a year, that’s over 1 trillion gallons of water.”

Not too shabby for something so simple to do. I’m not advocating people do this at work or out in public because of health and cleanliness concerns, but it is something one could easily adopt at home whether it be all day, just in the evenings or just on the weekends. Every little bit helps.

So what about you? Do you let it mellow or would you consider it?

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂

Haiku Friday and Mama of the Month

haiku friday

It’s Haiku Friday.
A first for me on my blog.
Thought it looked like fun.

And now for the real Haiku…

Girl Scout Cookies

Oh, Girl Scout Cookies.
Peanut butter, chocolate.
My favorite treat.

Morning, noon and night.
I could eat you ’round the clock.
And sometimes I do.

Oops. Running low now.
I must make the cookies last.
Rationing them out.

But wait! There are more!
Sweet treasure in the freezer.
Sigh. What a relief.

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Mile High MamasI’m so flattered to have been chosen as February’s Mama Blogger of the Month over at Mile High Mamas. Feel free to check out my interview over there today. That Amber asked some hard good questions and I provided some long-winded thorough answers. 😉 Seriously though, it was a lot of fun to ramble about my passions. Thank you for the honor, Mile High Mamas.

Also, there are some awesome bloggers out there who have bestowed bloggy awards upon me over the past couple of months. I haven’t forgotten your kindness and am working on my post for passing those awards on. Hope to have it up within the next week. Thank you. 🙂

A letter to my body

BlogHer has unveiled a new topic area: Body Image and is encouraging everyone to write a Letter to Our Body.

Hello dear body o’ mine,

It’s been a while since we talked so I thought I’d take this opportunity to chat with you for a bit.

My bicep in 2005First of all, thank you for sticking with me all of these years. You’ve done some amazing things over the past 32 years and put up with some crap from me and yet, despite that I don’t often acknowledge your greatness, you keep on keepin’ on.

You proved yourself awfully resilient from an early age when you endured three eye muscle surgeries (for strabismus) before you/I were even 2 years old. You rose to the challenge when, at age 6, I stepped on a piece of wood while in a lake, and was on crutches for a few weeks while you healed yourself. You stayed remarkably healthy and strong throughout my middle school years when a bag of Funyons and a candy bar was often considered a “cooler” lunch than a sandwich and apple. And you kept on truckin’ throughout high school when I got us up before school for 7 a.m. band/flag corps practice, then went to school, then had drill team practice after school, then did homework and often worked until 10 p.m. at K-mart. You are a machine for getting by on so little sleep and still functioning well enough to get good grades throughout high school.

Then there were the college years, where I was often an emotional wreck, ate crappy cafeteria food, pulled all-nighters cramming for exams, not to mention the experimentation with drinking and smoking (cigs, cloves and other). I know there wasn’t a huge amount of either of the two, regardless thank you for responding so well the majority of the time, and keeping me on the straight and narrow even though I have a serious family history of addiction. You don’t know how thankful I am for not falling victim to it.

After college I began to wise up a bit and understand that you deserved better. I started drinking water instead of soda and even went the vegetarian route a few times. However, I admit exercise was not then and is still not one of my biggest priorities. You deserve better from me in that regard.

When I got pregnant for the first time, I believed in you to help me through a natural childbirth. And while I did the best I could with the cards dealt me (HELLP syndrome), I ended up having to be hooked up to machines and on drugs (magnesium sulfate) that I never knew existed. Even though I was seriously sleep deprived and bed-ridden and drugged, you stayed strong for both me and my baby girl. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.

After Ava’s birth, you recovered from anemia and, as Ava grew older, I started to pay closer attention to the foods we ingested, both for her health and for yours. Instead of frozen dinners, I opted for more whole, organic foods. I think this helped you, my body, a great deal when I got pregnant with my second child.

Knowing that I wanted a home birth this time around, I was willing to do just about any and everything to keep you in the best shape possible so that I could to achieve that, which meant eating more protein throughout my pregnancy, going for acupuncture, and drinking some nasty concoctions of Chinese herbs. All of it paid off when I went into labor on my own without any symptoms of HELLP.

You proved yourself to be a birthing warrior when you gave birth vaginally to a 9 1/2 lb. surprise footling breech baby boy in our bedroom at home. No drugs, no machines, just pure hormones, endorphins, love and determination. You were amazing. Again, thank you for doing exactly what you needed to do to have a healthy baby.

These past nearly four years of motherhood have caused some wear and tear on you, this I know. Sleep deprivation can be hard on a body, as can breastfeeding hunched over with poor posture. I will do my best to honor your cues as to when you need sleep and to be mindful of my posture. I know I need to take care of you to be able to take care of my family.

I hope to have a long run with you, dear body, and I pledge to continue to nourish you with good foods, save the occasional sweet treat. I gotta be honest, I think you do love your chocolate. 😉 I pledge to exercise more. I can’t promise anything fancy, but I can do more frequent walks and at least that is something. I also will try to take some time to honor you on a regular basis and appreciate you for the wonderful life you give me.

You are an incredible thing, my body. You are strong, resilient, healthy and amazing, and I thank and love you.

Sincerely,

Amy
(Crunchy Domestic Goddess)